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Why Our Churches Are A Dangerous And Unaccountable Institution

Churches are complicit in spreading hate and bigotry, and yet are one of the most unaccountable institutions in the country. How do we change this?

31/01/2017 04:56 SAST | Updated 31/01/2017 04:56 SAST
Adrees Latif / Reuters

Churches are one of the very few institutions that are not held accountable for their colonial imperialism, white supremacist ideologies, anti-womxn stances and LGBTI hate speech.

Without going into the loopholes in the Bible like it's endorsement of slavery and other such contradictions, I believe people must believe whatever they like. For reasons I alluded to in the first sentence, I have very strong feelings about black people being Christians and like any decent person, I keep them to myself. Look, I get it. It is hard being black living in post-1994 Apartheid South Africa. White people's dogs live lavish lives that most black people can only dream about. We need hope. We need something or someone to believe in as a spiritual guide amidst the perpetual trauma of living in occupied Azania.

But at which point do we audit churches about and hold them accountable for their hateful stances? I once attended a church where a British pastor made a joke about the colonisation of India by the British. In the same church, I had to listen to another settler say that intersex and *trans people are the result of Eve's sin in the garden.

Every Sunday, churches in South Africa preach about "reaching out to primitive natives who are in need of God". Rewind to 500 years ago, and this is the same logic colonial imperialist missionaries were committing in the form of psychological and spiritual genocides; all in the name of God. Every Sunday, somewhere in South Africa some pastor is teaching hundreds of people that LGBTI identities are unnatural and evil.

This is why the church is a dangerous and irresponsible institution. Their hateful ideologies cost lives.

This is irresponsible in a country where the LGBTI community face brutal hate crimes stemming from colonial penal codes that institutionalised homophobia. Having worked at an LGBTI organisation documenting hate crimes, I know very well that the state does not have proper mechanisms in place to deal with the countless rapes, beatings and murders of queer people. Just a few months ago, 10 men broke into a lesbian's house and brutally murdered her. Countless people lose children, friends, colleagues and comrades due to hate crimes. This is why the church is a dangerous and irresponsible institution. Their hateful ideologies cost lives.

Black people's memories are very short. Not so long ago, settlers were killing us like ants justifying it with the same document they are now defending on social media. Black person, how would you feel if a white person said they don't agree with your blackness but they accept you and love you despite it? If they said they love you but hate the sin (blackness)?

Christians must decide whether they are about love or about hate. Including the black Christian activists with big mouths about racism but suddenly their mouths are full of marbles when Christians are being hateful. Yes, we see you.

Overall, I think churches need to be held accountable to their anti-human rights stances and hatefulness. Yes, you have freedom of religious association but when your association spews hate that results in certain communities dying, then you need to check yourself. Christians must decide whether they preach love (as preached by their lord) or hatefulness. And they must choose quickly.